First issue date: September 1998
On the cover: Method Man
Cover line: The Method Behind The Madness
Editor: Jesse Washington
Art director: David Harley
Photographer: Marc Baptiste
Illustrator: Matt Mahurin

Blaze Magazine was VIBE's response to the challenge posed by XXL, whose hard-driving hip-hop editorial and stepped-up graphics had VIBE feeling the pressure. With two different images of Method Man on their first cover, Blaze set the bar high.

Former Art Director Mark Shaw says: "The premiere issue of Blaze was a really huge deal and one of the largest magazine launches of its time. Method Man a.k.a. Johnny Blaze was the cover subject, and there were two different versions printed. One version was a basic portrait with Meth wearing a black snapback and brim to the side, but the alternate cover was a photo illustration by artist Matt Mahurin who created a crazy image of Method Man, mouth agape, one eye rolling back in his head, ripping the flesh from the side of his face to reveal a cyborg-like interior of clockwork gears and a smooth metal cranium."